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Switch Flipped

Don’t tell me it’s not possible to just throw the switch because the Warriors did.

May 15, 2018 - 10:01 am

Golden State v. Houston in the Western Conference Finals. The matchup we’d been waiting for ever since Chris Paul was traded to the Rockets. And if it felt like a long wait to you, Draymond Green’s with you, because he told ESPN the regular season "Felt like an eternity. A bleeping eternity."

But now it’s finally here. And damn did it get off to a good start. 

That first quarter was absolute electricity. It had everything: a technical. Weird jump balls. And look over there, its Nick Young draining a three in the conference finals. 

Seriously. It was. And seriously, you could not have asked for a better first quarter. Two teams’ just trading haymakers, literally, like when Draymond and James Harden got hooked up early.

Are you kidding me? 67 seconds in the first quarter and Draymond is going ‘bow to the neck on Harden and getting t’d up? And he nearly got a second tech not long after.

The teams were a combined 10 of 19 from three in the first 11 minutes and went for a combined 59 points in the first 12 minutes. When it was over, the Rockets had a 30-29 lead and everyone watching was amped. I mean, this is what we waited for and it was delivering. 

And then reality set in. Houston was having to work so hard on offense, while Golden State was just doing whatever the hell they wanted – Kevin Durant in particular. No matter who Houston threw at him, he had an answer. And that answer was either taking his man off the dribble or sticking a jumper in his face. Poor Nene came rolling off the bench and seconds later was matched up with KD and the result was what you’d expect when you bring a 16-year vet off the bench to stop KD – just a statistic on his way to 37 points. 

And if KD wasn’t killing the Rockets, it was Klay Thompson who had 28. 

But that wasn’t the backbreaker. If you’d like to know the exact time of death of that game, it was at 3:54 to go in the fourth quarter, because that’s when you had this series of events that ended with Houston getting their soul snatched:

If the Rockets weren’t already going to lose that game, they lost it right there. Should a backcourt have been called? Probably. Did Houston have a right to complain? Sure. Should they have stopped playing in order to complain? Yeah…I wouldn’t recommend that. 

Especially when it results in Klay Thompson getting a look from three without a single Rocket within 10 feet. He had so much time he could take the James Harden petty dribble, and then drain the three. 

And somewhere along the way, somewhere during the fourth quarter, you had to ask the question: was the NBA title won last night and nobody noticed? 

I don’t want to overreact to just one game, because it was only one game, but how brutal was that for Houston last night? They worked all season to get homecourt for that moment and then they lost it the first moment they had it. 

They built a team, a mindset, and a philosophy to beat Golden State and they had success against the Warriors in the regular season. Golden State didn’t look good down the stretch of the regular season, slumping into the playoffs. Maybe the Warriors were vulnerable? Maybe this Rockets team could take them down?

And then in Game 1, Houston comes out on fire. They jump out to a lead. Draymond gets an early tech. Steph Curry doesn’t look like himself. James Harden plays an MVP-caliber game. 41 points and 7 assists. He shot the damn lights out and was lethal with that stepback jumper. A lot of things broke Houston’s way. And they still lost. At home. In fact, they got hammered at home.

If you’re Golden State and you can flip the switch like that, the regular season would feel like a bleeping eternity. Because these are the games you play for. These are the games you live for. And then you can show up like that. So don’t tell me it’s not possible to just throw the switch because the Warriors did. They’re a totally different team than they were in the regular season. Because they regular season doesn’t mean anything to these guys. Why should they kill themselves there? For the homecourt? Don’t need it. For 70 wins: for who, for what; it means nothing. The ring is the thing, and the champs know it.  And they’re playing like they’re about to win another. 

Again, I don’t want to bury a team or a series after just 48 minutes, but ask yourself this: does that Houston team, as good as they were in the regular season, look like they could beat this Golden State team four out of the next six games? And maybe, just maybe, did everyone, including the Rockets, forget how good Golden State really is?

I know this: they’re not beating Golden State playing 2 on five with Harden and CP3.